Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 24, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 50 of 55 OCT. 24, 2020 51 IRISH IN THE PROS BY ANDREW MENTOCK T he 2020 WNBA Finals took place on IMG Academy's campus in Bradenton, Fla. In total, five former Notre Dame players represented the university in this best-of-five se- ries, which the Seattle Storm won by sweeping the Las Vegas Aces. Jewell Loyd, who played at Notre Dame from 2012-15, started at point guard for the Storm and averaged 17.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists while shooting 55.4 percent from the field during her team's six- game postseason run. She posted the highest plus-minus rating of any player in this year's WNBA playoffs, with the Storm playing to a plus-16.7 advantage when she was on the floor. After her team's championship- clinching 92-59 victory in game three, Loyd dedicated the win to Kobe Bry- ant, who passed away this past win- ter and was a mentor to Loyd. "This is for Kobe, [his daughter] Gigi, the Bryant family and for Bre- onna Taylor [who was shot and killed in her Louisville home by police]," Loyd said in a postgame interview. "We had a lot of emotions come to this game. "For me this season, I had to play it for him. It's my first season with- out him. And so I surrounded myself with people who knew him, and I just focused in." Kayla McBride, a guard who played at Notre Dame from 2010-14, also started all three games of the WNBA Finals while playing for the Aces. In eight playoff games, she av- eraged 9.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Guards Jackie Young (2016-19) and Lindsay Allen (2013-17) came off the bench for the Aces. Young averaged 7.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.8 as- sists per game in eight postseason contests, while Allen saw action in five games and posted 1.2 points and 0.4 assists per outing. Additionally, former Notre Dame men's basketball player Bill Laimbeer just finished his third year as the head coach of the Aces and, despite being swept, is excited about the future. "I'm so proud of our players. We came in short-handed, then got more short-handed," said Laimbeer, who guided the Aces to an 18-4 regular- season record that was tied for the league's best mark with the Storm. "Three of our top six players were out [in the Finals]. We accomplished a lot. "Not only did we get to the finals for the first time, we also learned a lot." Laimbeer has been a head coach in the WNBA for 16 years and has com- piled a 282-207 record (.577 winning percentage). He coached the Detroit Shock from 2002-09 and led that fran- chise to three WNBA championships. He spent five years at the helm for the New York Liberty, before going to Las Vegas in 2018. The Aces are 53-37 under Laimbeer and lost in the West- ern Conference Finals last year, before this year's trip to the WNBA Finals. THREE FORMER IRISH PLAYERS EARN ALL-WNBA HONORS Three former Notre Dame wom- en's basketball players received All- WNBA accolades. In her second professional season, Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogun- bowale (2015-19) made the All-WNBA first team after leading the league in scoring with 22.8 points per game. "Still hungry, still working … and VERY, very thankful," Ogunbowale wrote on Twitter after the honor. Skylar Diggins-Smith (2009-13) — who averaged 17.7 points, 4.2 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game during the 22-game regular season — made the second team. She just completed her eighth campaign in the WNBA and was a first-team selection in 2014 and 2017, and earned another sec- ond-team designation in 2018. Also in her second season, Phoe- nix Mercury forward Brianna Turner (2014-19) was named to the WNBA All-Defensive Team. She finished sec- ond in the WNBA with 1.95 blocks per game, while also averaging 6.4 defensive rebounds per contest. CHRIS QUINN UP FOR NBA HEAD COACHING JOBS As an assistant coach and the direc- tor of player development for the Mi- ami Heat, former Notre Dame guard Chris Quinn participated in his first NBA Finals in a 4-2 series defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. Quinn parlayed his success and reputation into a recent interview for the vacant head coach position of the Indiana Pacers after the finals. He may not be ready for a head coaching position yet, but he likely will be down the road. "I think on our staff we have several future head coaches," Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra told reporters. "I don't want them to just be assistant coaches their whole career. I want them to be able to grow and have opportunities to be head coaches at some point." ✦ Jewell Loyd averaged 17.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists, and compiled a league-best plus-16.7 plus/minus, in six postseason games to help the Seattle Storm win the 2020 WNBA championship. PHOTO COURTESY SEATTLE STORM Five Players Represent Notre Dame In WNBA Finals NOTRE DAME IN THE NFL: WEEK FIVE HIGHLIGHTS • Chase Claypool (Played at Notre Dame from 2016-19), WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Notched seven catches for 110 yards and three touch- downs, plus carried the ball three times for six yards and a score, in the 4-0 Steelers' 38-29 win over the Philadelphia Eagles … Through four games, he had 13 catches for 261 yards and four touchdowns, four carries for 14 yards and a score, and four special teams tackles. • Troy Pride Jr. (2016-19), CB, Carolina Pan- thers: Played 97 percent of the defensive snaps and recorded six tackles in the 3-2 Panthers' 23-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons … Recorded 19 tackles (one for loss) through five contests. • Stephon Tuitt (2011-13), DL, Pittsburgh Steelers: Finished with five tackles, 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits in Pittsburgh's 38-29 win over Philadelphia … After four contests, he had 11 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hits.

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